Some people like to push buttons. Confrontation is easy for some. Some people don’t mind making waves or rocking the boat. I am not one of those people. I was never a wave maker or a boat rocker. I prefer a soft gentle breeze and calm quiet seas. I grew up with a lot of chaos and fear. My desire to keep the peace as much as possible at home was so strong that I took a lot of crap in order to avoid “causing a problem”. I mean a LOT of crap. I tried to do everything right.I tried to fly under the radar and be invisible, go unnoticed. I got really good at it. Sometimes it felt lonely. I endured a lot of mistreatment as a child. Later on, my poor teenage soul suffered years of emotional and mental abuse. I was never taught that I had the right to stand up for myself and to be allowed to say if something was not right. And there was SO much that was not right. The few times I did make fearful weak attempts to say, barely above a whisper, “This isn’t right” or “This is not ok”, I was met with punishment and more abuse for simply speaking up and speaking the truth. I was accused of lying when I was not the one who was lying. But the one who was, was always believed. She had all the power. I was a child and I had none. It was a terrible time in my life. A private hell. One that I was not allowed to talk about. I can remember being told on our way to the Kingdom Hall (yes, former J-dubb in the house) that when asked, to tell everyone that “I was fine” and that everything at home was fine too. It wasn’t fine. (If everything really is fine there is no need to train your kids to say that. Ummm…..ya know?) I dutifully told the people who questioned me that I was fine in hopes to please my parents. Loyalty is a tricky thing. I proved that my love for myself was so little, in order to prove that my love for them was so much. The goal of course, was to earn their love. My efforts went unrewarded.
As a teenager and then for my first few years as a young adult, I went through more of the same. I found myself drawn to bad relationships that mimicked all of the abuse patterns I grew up with. (It’s crazy how sometimes we grow up to recreate the life that we grew up with, isn’t it?) I took a lot of crap. I mean a LOT of crap. My tolerance for it was quite high after all.
One day in my young adulthood, after my last straw with one particular ex, I had had enough. I woke up and decided I was not going to take ANYbody’s crap ANYmore! And boy did I mean it! Since I had no healthy experience in proper assertiveness, I swung to the extreme opposite of the boundaries pendulum. Let’s just say I started blowing up in anger and rage anytime my boundaries were crossed, big or small, and I went overboard for quite a while. But I didn’t know any better. I just knew I was tired of being mistreated and being made to feel small. I was tired of feeling as if I didn’t matter and as if I was not worthy of love or respect. But how could I expect others to love and respect me, when I was guilty of not loving or respecting me either? It was time for change.
As a grown currently 36 year old adult, I don’t stand for the type of abuse that I grew up with anymore. I know now that I am a strong, intelligent woman who is worthy and deserving of love and respect. I am still not a wave maker or a boat rocker by nature. I still do not like confrontation. But I do know how to stand up for myself now and I do practice and strive to get better at it all the time. I am not perfect and I do make mistakes. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me in these moments. I am human. It is hard not to be angry when someone violates your boundaries. But you have to be willing to be strong yet compassionate, try not to get sucked into emotional chaos, and stand firm. It is still definitely a work in progress for me and I will never stop learning.
To be honest, it does not feel like it has gotten all that much easier over time. But I hope that someday I can say that it did. In the meantime I continue to work on maintaining my inner peace during the hard parts and stay determined to continue learning and growing. ❤